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September 07, 2013

Rangers' Matt Harrison facing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome on right shoulder

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Left-hander Matt Harrison, already lost for the season because of two operations in April and May to fix a herniated disc, will undergo surgery Monday to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder.

He expects to be ready for spring training, as his latest bout with the nerve condition is on his non-throwing shoulder. Harrison had surgery, in which his upper left rib was removed, in July 2009 to fix the condition in his left shoulder, and started 2010 as a member of the rotation.

“I’m trying to set a record for surgeries in a year,” Harrison said Saturday. “When I had it on the left side, I was full recovery in 2 ½ months, and this is an arm I don’t use to throw.”

Harrison, the Rangers’ Opening Day starter this year after winning 18 games in 2012, has been bothered by pain in his right shoulder and neck, in addition to the numbness that is also a symptom of thoracic outlet syndrome. Dr. Greg Pearl of Dallas will perform the procedure, removing the upper right rib to alleviate the nerves that are being pinched.

It has also limited Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in the off-season, as he continues to strengthen his back after a comeback attempt this season was derailed last month. Had he been able to return from the back injury, he said he would put off the surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

“It stinks to have to have another surgery, but there’s nothing else I can do at this point,” Harrison said. “I was already shut down for the year. I rather go ahead and get this taken care of. If I was able to pitch again this year, I would have done my best to wait until the off-season to get this done.”

Harrison plans to meet with Rangers back specialist Dr. Drew Dossett within a week after his operation Monday. Harrison has had to limit the rehab work on his back and simply give it time to rest.

He has stopped running outside and has also cut back on some of the core exercises he has been doing. Much of his rehab work consists of riding a stationary bike.

The back issue, which had caused numbness in his left hand during his aborted rehab assignment last month, is a greater concern for him than the new bout with thoracic outlet syndrome.

“I expect to be 100 percent by the time next season comes around,” Harrison said. “It’s starting to get better since I’ve stopped doing baseball stuff. Maybe that’s what it needed.”

-- Jeff Wilson

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